NUR-AL-DIN MOḤAMMAD II B. ḤASAN (b. Šawwāl 542/March 1148; d. 10 Rabiʿ I 607/1 September 1210), Nezāri Ismaʿili imam and the fifth lord of Alamut. He succeeded to the leadership of the Nezāri Ismaʿili state (see ISMAʿILISM iii. ISMAʿILI HISTORY) and daʿwa (see DAʿI) at the age of seventeen, on 6 Rabiʿ I 561/10 January 1166, immediately upon the death of his father, Ḥasan II, to whom the Nezāris referred with the expression ʿalā ḏekrehe’l-salām (on his mention be peace). As was then customary for the lords of Alamut, Moḥammad II carried the honorific title of “Nur-al-Din.” He reigned for forty-four years, longer than any other lord (ḵodāvand) of Alamut, managing the affairs of the Nezāris, especially in Persia, from the central headquarters of the Nezāri state at the mountain fortress of Alamut.
Moḥammad II, who is reported to have been a scholar and prolific writer, reaffirmed his father’s religious policies and devoted his long reign to a systematic articulation of the teachings related to the declaration of the qiāma (the Resurrection). The proclamation of the qiāma in 559/1164 had, indeed, initiated a new phase in the history of the Nezāris of the Alamut period (483-654/1090-1256). Nur-al-Din Moḥammad placed the current (ḥāżer) Nezāri imam at the very center of the doctrine of the qiāma. The exaltation of the autonomous teaching authority of the present imam over that of any preceding imams now became the outstanding feature of Nezāri thought (see Haft bāb, pp. 4-42; tr. in Hodgson, pp. 279-324; Ṭusi, text pp. 81-83, 109-10, 134-36, 169-98; tr. pp. 70-72, 92, 109-11, 136-59; Daftary, 2007, pp. 358-62).
Furthermore, Moḥammad II explicitly claimed a Fatimid genealogy, as well as the Nezāri imamate, for his father and himself. He claimed that his father, Ḥasan II, was the son of a descendant of Nezār b. al-Mostanṣer, who had secretly found refuge in a village near Alamut. Thus, after a period of some seventy years following Nezār’s death in 488/1095 in Cairo, the line of the Nezāri imams emerged openly, and the Nezāri Ismaʿilis henceforth recognized the lords of Alamut, beginning with Ḥasan II, as their imams (Daftary, 2007, pp. 363-64, 630, n. 138).
Politically, the first three decades of Moḥammad II’s reign were rather uneventful. Outside Syria, the Nezāris of the qiāma times generally ignored the Sunni world and did not have any encounters with their enemies. During the last fourteen years of his reign, however, the Persian Nezāris were once again engaged in petty warfare with their neighbors in Ṭabarestān, Qazvin, and Sistān. Rašid-al-Din (see JĀMEʿ AL-TAWĀRIḴ) and other Persian historians also relate a story about how the Nezāris successfully persuaded the famous Sunni theologian Fakr-al-Din Rāzi (d. 606/1209) to refrain from condemning the Ismaʿilis in public (Rašid-al-Din, ed. Dānešpažuh and Modarresi, pp. 170-73; ed. Rowšan, pp. 167-70; Kāšāni, pp. 208-10). The Nezāri Ismaʿilis of Syria were more active at this time in terms of their own regional alliances and conflicts. There are also indications that a serious rift had then developed between Moḥammad II and Rāšed-al-Din Senān (d. 589/1193), the contemporary leader of the Syrian Nezāris (Lewis, pp. 231, 248-49, 262). Nur-al-Din Moḥammad II died, possibly of poison, on 10 Rabiʿ I 607/1 September 1210 and was succeeded at Alamut by his eldest son Jalāl-al-Din Ḥasan.
Anonymous, Haft bāb-e Bābā Sayyednā, in Two Early Ismaili Treatises, ed. Wladimir Ivanow, Bombay, 1933, pp. 4-44.
Farhad Daftary, “Nūr al-Dīn Muḥammad II,” in EI2 VIII, 1995, pp. 133-34.
Idem, The Ismāʿīlīs: Their History and Doctrines, 2nd ed., Cambridge, 2007, pp. 363-67, 371, 373-75; tr. Faridun Badraʾi, as Tārik wa sonnathā-ye Esmāʿiliya, Tehran, 2014.
Marshall G. S. Hodgson, The Order of Assassins: The Struggle of the Early Nizârî Ismâʿîlîs against the Islamic World, The Hague, 1955, pp. 160-61, 180-84, 210-17, 225, 279-324.
ʿAṭā-Malek Jovayni, Tāriḵ-e jahāngošā, ed. Moḥammad Qazvini, Leiden and London, 3 vols., 1912-37, III, pp. 240-42; tr. John A. Boyle, as The History of the World-Conqueror, 2 vols., Manchester, 1958, II, pp. 697-99.
Jamāl-al-Din Abu’l-Qāsem ʿAbd-Allāh Kāšāni, Zobdat al-tawāriḵ: bakš-e Fāṭemiān wa Nezāriān, ed. Moḥammad-Taqi Dānešpažuh, 2nd ed., Tehran, 1987, pp. 208-14.
Bernard Lewis, “Kamāl al-Dīn’s Biography of Rāšid al-Dīn Sinān,” Arabica 13, 1966, pp. 225-67.
Ismail K. Poonawala, Biobibliography of Ismāʿīlī Literature, Malibu, Calif., 1977, pp. 258-59.
Rašid-al-Din Fażl-Allāh, Jāmeʿ al-tawāriḵ: qesmat-e Esmāʿiliān, ed. Moḥammad-Taqi Dānešpažuh and Moḥammad Modarresi Zanjāni, Tehran, 1959, pp. 170-73; ed. Moḥammad Rowšan, Tehran, 2008, pp. 167-70.
Naṣir-al-Din Ṭusi, Rawża-ye taslim, ed. and tr. S. J. Badakhchani as Paradise of Submission: A Medieval Treatise on Ismaili Thought, London, 2005.
Originally Published: November 26, 2014
Last Updated: November 26, 2014Cite this entry:
Farhad Daftary, "NUR-AL-DIN MOḤAMMAD II B. ḤASAN," Encyclopædia Iranica, online edition, 2014, available at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/nur-al-din-mohammad-hassan (accessed on 26 November 2014).